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For once, Gabriel was useful. Being alive for as long as he had, he was familiar - at least to some degree - with almost every human language ever spoken, written, or signed.

This meant that otherwise indecipherable texts sitting deep within the bookshelves of the Men of Letters bunker could actually offer some helpful information. Spells, mostly - spells that even Rowena didn’t recognize.

Gabriel was glad he could give back to the Winchester brothers, whose hospitality had been ridiculous. It was nice being able to stay with them, and as tempted as he was to ditch so that they wouldn’t have to keep addressing his “post-traumatic stress,” he was trying to accept that it seemed they wanted to. Sam was stubborn whenever the subject arose, and frankly, Gabriel thought that perhaps he was more likely to incur Sam’s anger or disapproval by insisting that Sam was wrong. After all, Sam seemed far less exasperated when something made Gabriel flinch or freeze - or worse - than when Gabriel said, “I don’t want you to put up with me anymore.”

But how far was too far? What could Gabriel ask for, and what was more than they could handle? Crossing a boundary and being thrown out was a lot worse than just leaving on his own, without the ache of rejection.

Lately, the bunker had begun to feel small and tight. Although most of the refugees from the other side of the rift had left - gone back through the portal to try and resurrect what good had once colored their world - it felt oddly more crowded when it was just Gabriel, Sam, Dean, and often Castiel. There were days when the quiet lighting and plain decor made Gabriel feel as if he was back in Hell. It was silly, he knew - but he found he couldn’t always escape the chill in his spine.

Gabriel didn’t think he was the only one who felt a little claustrophobic. Cases became stressful; quarters became close. There were days even Dean and Castiel didn’t get along.

“Why don’t you three go out once in a while?” Gabriel asked Dean in the library while Gabriel was translating and Dean was simultaneously shoveling pizza into his mouth and poring over a cloth-bound booklet. The book was so old and frail its pages were flaking all over the desk. “One of you is gonna have a stroke trying not to bite the other’s head off.”

“What makes you say that?” Dean demanded through a mouthful of pepperoni.

“Uh, well, the last thing I heard you say before you slammed your door last night was ‘the next time you leave the fridge open I’ll take your goddamn hippie salad and replace every grain of quinoa with wendigo meat,’ so … just hazarding a guess but you seem a little on edge.”

“Hey, my brother’s the one on edge. Can’t even remember to keep the food cold. I’m telling you, something’s wrong with that kid.” Dean took an aggressive bite. “He’s lucky I’m such a patient guy.”

Gabriel blinked. “Yeah. Yes. Okay. Well, I know that I could stand to get out for a couple hours. Was thinking I’d head on over to that shady diner a couple miles away.”

Dean frowned. “What shady diner?”

Gabriel sputtered. “Seriously, Dean? You know every greasy spoon in all of Middle America and can’t be bothered to step foot in the only one you could get to without have to stop to fill up on gas?”

“I’ve still got no idea what you’re talking about, but I’m sure Sam would take you.”

“Nah, I don’t want to bother him. I’ll go myself.”

Dean narrowed his eyes. “I don’t think so, Gabe. You don’t have enough power to get there without walking. And two miles is a long-ass way to go when you’re still recovering.”

“I think I can manage two miles,” Gabriel answered dryly.

“Maybe. But I also think my brother needs to get out of this place too. Before any more leftovers manage to develop their own ecosystems.”

Gabriel’s lips tightened. “I’d really rather go by myself.”

“Ask Sam.”

“I don’t need his permission to go anywhere! I’m a grown archangel! I follow nobody’s rules but my - ”

“What are you two talking about?”

Gabriel jumped - unexpected voices, even familiar ones, made him a little uneasy - and relaxed when he saw it was just Sam. “Dean thinks you’re my mother.”

“Oh. That’s creepy.”

“And also not what I said,” Dean groused. “Listen, Gabe has a little cabin fever going on here. What d’you say you take him our for some fresh air?”

“Or,” Gabriel interjected, “I could go myself, which is what I want to do, which is what I’m going to do.”

“No,” Sam replied immediately.

“Why not?” Gabriel demanded.

“Well, one, because you haven’t been outside at all since you got here a month and a half ago; and two, because I don’t trust you not to run off.”

“What - that’s - I’m not gonna run off!” *And what do you care if I do?* he added silently.

Sam shrugged. “I could stand some fresh air myself. Where d’you wanna go? There’s not much around here, but - ”

“Gabe said something about a diner,” Dean told him.

“Oh, yeah, the one a couple miles down the road.”

“See, Dean-o?” said Gabriel. “Maybe you have bad eyesight or something.”

“Yeah, that’s a great idea,” Sam decided. “Let’s go. You and me. When was the last time you had coffee? Or an ice cream sundae?”

“A while,” Gabriel admitted.

“You know, there are other food groups,” Dean reminded his brother.

“Oh, yeah, thanks for that. Enjoy the two slices of heart attack you have left. Come on Gabriel, let’s head out.”

“I’d reeeeaaaally prefer to go alone.”

“Yeah, well, I’m the one with the car.”

“I’m the one with the car,” Dean corrected.

“Well, I’m second in command.” Sam turned back to Gabriel. “Sorry, Gabe, but I’m not allowing you to just go off without someone else.”

Gabriel groaned. “Archangel. Celestial creature of light and glory. Bearer of good news. Sexy multi-winged beast. Not a kindergartener, Sam.”

“Hey, what about me?” Sam objected. “Maybe I want some company, huh? It’ll be good for me to take a break. Don’t argue with me on this; just come.”

Gabriel shoved himself to his feet. “Hate that orphan-child look of yours. Fine, but you’re paying, Oliver Twist.”

The inside of the diner was just as gross as the outside: peeling paint, a clock stuck at exactly 9:14, greasy tables. And as much as Gabriel was loath to admit it, he was glad he hadn’t come here by himself. It would’ve creeped him out.

“So,” said Sam after they were seated, “You feeling okay on your first trip out in … forever?”

“Fine,” Gabriel replied, not quite sure whether he was telling the truth. It was nice not to be trapped in the bunker, but admittedly, until recently, he’d felt a little uneasy at the prospect of leaving. Lately he’d been oscillating between desperation for a world beyond the underground - he’d had more than his fair share of that - and fear of being exposed to new unknowns.

After all, any one of these people - the wait staff, the customers - could be demons in disguise. Demons prepared to take him back. To retrieve what had been rightfully theirs for so many centuries.

Well, not theirs. He’d belonged to their master. But there were those still loyal to Asmodeus, and those who knew they could benefit from archangel grace themselves. They’d seen the power it had given the prince. And now that they knew -

“Hey. Gabriel?”

Gabriel’s eyes refocused. Sam was watching him in confusion. “Did you hear me?”

“Uh. Yeah. But um, I forgot what you said.”

Sam raised an eyebrow. “I asked if you know what you’d like to eat.”

Gabriel squirmed. “Not hungry. But coffee sounds nice.”

“You know you have to eat. If you want your grace to come back faster.”

Gabriel rolled his eyes. “I appreciate your expertise, Sam. Look, I’m just not in the mood right now. Food wouldn’t be …” He hesitated. “I just don’t want it.”

Gabriel had had a lot of trouble eating since getting out of Hell - partly because he hadn’t had food in such a long time that it was like trying to communicate with his old self in a foreign language, and partly because memories of being force-fed made everything feel heavy and putrid inside of him.

“Soup?” Sam pressed.

“Sam. I really, really don’t want it. See, this is why I planned on coming alone. I didn’t need you pushing me around.”

Sam looked hurt, and Gabriel immediately regretted his words. “Sorry, sorry, that’s not what I meant. All right, look, if you’re so set on it - fine. I’ll get some soup. Okay?”

Sam’s face relaxed, and he nodded. “You don’t have to eat all of it. What kind would you like? They have, uh …” He looked down at the menu. “I’m assuming you don’t want anything with chicken or beef.”

Gabriel shuddered, remembering what had happened the last time he’d been exposed to meat. Sam had been incredibly patient with him, taking him away from the table and helping him calm down even as Gabriel was violently sick.

“Looks like there’s also minestrone,” Sam told him. “And cream of celery.”

“Which sounds disgusting.”

“Minestrone it is, then.”

“Do I get a say?”

“Well, I could order the chicken noodle, but - ”

“Never mind. Minestrone sounds nice and … minestronal.”

Sam requested coffee for the both of them, and a sandwich for himself. Gabriel didn’t fail to notice that Sam omitted meat from his own order.

Gabriel bit back the urge to tell Sam not to sacrifice what he liked just because Gabriel was liable to have some kind of bacon-induced meltdown. Then again, this was probably better for Sam’s sake: eating cheese and lettuce on rye was preferable to dragging Gabriel into a piss-soaked restroom before he could throw up all over the table.

Gabriel barely touched his coffee, even after pouring almost a third of the sugar jar into his mug. He felt ill at just the notion of having to eat. Why had he thought to come here in the first place? Now it seemed stupid.

Gabriel was still lost in thought when their waitress arrived at the table.

“Provolone melt for Hagrid,” she said, setting Sam’s plate in front of him, “And soup for scrawny blondie.”

Gabriel cast her a dirty look as she walked away.

“Just a little, okay?” Sam coaxed.

The soup was too hot to eat. “Let me wait for it to cool down.”

“Yeah, all right. Sure.” Sam took a bite of his sandwich, and then a sip of coffee. Gabriel missed being able to enjoy a meal like that. It had been an indulgence for him when he still had his grace; now it was important that he eat to replenish what he’d lost, and he couldn’t.

“Come on, Gabriel.” Sam’s voice was gentle.

Gabriel picked up a spoonful of soup and cautiously put it into his mouth. The temperature was fine and the minestrone relatively bland, for which he was grateful.

“So,” Sam began after several moments of silence, “How are - ”

Just then his cell phone vibrated. He pulled it from his pocket and glanced at the number before answering. “Hey Dean.” Silence while Sam listened to his brother. “Oh, uh yeah, sure. Hang on.” Sam handed the phone across the table. “He wants to talk to you.”

Gabriel blinked in confusion but took the phone. “Uh. Hey?”

“Hey Gabe,” came Dean’s voice, “I got a question for you. This translation you were working on before you left? Well, it looks pretty good, except I don’t know if this spell is right.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Yeah, you put down something about” - there was a pause, as though he were looking more closely at the translation - “the bark of an elm tree, and that looks fine; but then you wrote down, uh, ‘canine tooth of goblin.’”

“Yeah, I did. I remember.”

“You ever tried mixing those two?”

“I flunked out of Hex Lab 101.”

Dean sighed. “It’s a dangerous pairing, man. Has the potential to blow the entire bunker to Reese’s Pieces. Be careful next time, okay? If I hadn’t known about that - ”

“Yeah, I - I get it.” He gripped the phone tightly. “So you think the translation is wrong.”

“I’ve seen this word once or twice before. I’m 95% sure it has a different meaning. It’s all right man, just … maybe double-check from now on. And if you need one of us to translate, we could probably do it.”

Gabriel swallowed. “Sorry about that, Dean-o.”

He hung up and handed the phone back to Sam.

There was a moment of silence.

“Gabriel?” Sam spoke warily. “Why do you look like you’re about to pass out?”

“I don’t look like that.”

“You definitely look like that.”

“The lighting in here sucks.”

“What’d Dean say to you?”

“He just … had a question about the translations.”

“What kind of question?”

“Please stop interrogating me.”

“Did he scare you?”

“Nope. He just had a question. I’ve asked questions before too. They’re all the rage up in Heaven. I hear they come in different colors now.”

“Dude - ”

“All right.” Gabriel clapped his hands together. “Howsabout you finish up here and I start walking back? I know you’re gonna try and fight me” - he raised his hands in a gesture of good will - “but look at me. I’m fine. I ate.”

“You had half a spoonful.”

“Which, when you’re as powerful and majestic as I am, is more than enough.”

“Is there an emergency over at the bunker or something?” Sam didn’t sound worried - just skeptical.

“No,” Gabriel replied. “Unless you consider a question an emergency.” He rose to his feet.

Sam’s face hardened. “Stay put.”

Centuries of training had taught Gabriel to obey a command when he heard one.

He retook his place at the table. And didn’t move. Didn’t breathe.

“You need to tell me what’s going on,” said Sam. “Now.”

Gabriel inhaled sharply. “Okay, I - I think - ”

Sam raised his eyebrows, pushing him to continue.

“I think I made a dumb mistake with the translations,” Gabriel confessed. “I’m not - listen, for like five minutes there I thought I could be helpful to you guys, but apparently I almost got you killed.”

Sam frowned in puzzlement.

“Look, I know a thing or two about words, okay, but I’m not exactly a Nobel Prize candidate for witchcraft. I shouldn’t have been translating that stuff; I messed up and Dean noticed it. He told me it could’ve been disastrous if he hadn’t. I, um … there’s nothing I can do for you guys now. I’m sorry, I …”

He stopped, looking down at his soup, feeling his stomach churn and Sam’s eyes lock onto him.

Gabriel raised his head. “Stop staring at me.”

“Gabriel, it’s all okay,” Sam assured him. “Dean spotted it. Nobody got hurt.”

“Okay. Cool. But obviously someone could have. In fact, all of you could have. So how about this? You enjoy what’s left of your three-dollar cheese-flavored throw rug, I go on my merry way, and you guys never have to worry about me setting fire to all those manuscripts that Castiel could probably translate with a lot more common sense ever again.”

Sam closed his eyes. “All right - no. Stop it. I mean it. Stop. Just slow down, Gabriel. First, we’re not gonna make you work for us. Second, of course you’ve been helpful. And third - did I ever tell you about the things Dean and I have mistranslated? Seriously? I came up with ‘duck on iron eats sage’ and Dean read the same passage as ‘cherry never runs.’”

“Yeah, well, waterfowl choking to death on herbs sounds a lot less intimidating than an underground hovel going up in flames. Plus, you really should have lower standards for yourself. Mortal shortcomings and all that.”

“Thanks, Gabe.”

“Look, all I’m trying to say is - ”

“I know what you’re trying to say.” Sam’s voice softened. “Gabriel, are you afraid we’re mad at you?”

“Well - I mean - aren’t you? I would be. And even if you’re not, I’m apparently useless, so - ”

“No one’s asking you to be useful.”

“Oh, okay. Then I guess I’ll just have to get comfortable with mooching off your space, and your charity, and all your goddamn patience, until I turn into an angel again!”

Everyone in the diner turned to stare.

“Gabriel,” Sam muttered, “Chill.”

Gabriel slunk down in his seat, humiliated.

“Listen,” Sam went on, keeping his voice low, “You can take a break from all the translation stuff if you want. We don’t need anything right this second, okay? And if you do want to stick with it, it’s fine; Dean and I know what we’re doing, so we’ll notice if something looks off. All right? No one’s gonna spontaneously combust because you miss a word or two here and there. And if it’s too much, just … just don’t worry. Everything’s fine. You’re not here for slave labor.”

Gabriel hesitated, trailing his eyes over the lumps of soggy vegetables in his soup. “Sam, I need to tell you something.”

“Yeah, what is it?”

Gabriel looked up at him. “There were days when I didn’t have enough. Days when he’d come for my grace and it was just … gone. Because he’d taken all of it. And he wanted more, and …”

Gabriel’s eyes swam with tears and he ducked his head. The minestrone became a murky puddle. “When I couldn’t give it to him, he got so angry. Asmodeus would do everything to me - everything. He told me it was my fault. He said I must have done it on purpose, that I was playing a cruel trick on him. And he tried to drill it into my head that - that my days as the Trickster were over, but I already knew that. Before he sewed me up I tried to tell him I couldn’t help it. I just needed time and then he could have whatever he wanted. But he - he wanted so much from me.”

Gabriel shut his eyes, and the tears spilled, streaking his face.

He wished this wouldn’t keep happening. It was all part of Sam being nice to him. If only they were a little more violent, he could just take their beatings, take their insults.

Instead he was reduced to this, because everybody else refused to give him the agony he deserved.

“I gave everything I could,” Gabriel choked without opening his eyes. “Every time he came for me - I was scared of being empty. The pain was so - so bad - but nothing compared to - ”

He felt hands on either of his arms, and Sam lifted him from his seat. “We’re gonna go outside.”

Gabriel heard the rustle of dollar bills and then the soft thus of coins being lain on the table. After that, Sam steered Gabriel over to the exit. Gabriel opened his eyes as they made their way across the parking lot to the Impala.

“Come on,” said Sam. “Get in.”

Gabriel followed his instructions, hugging himself and shivering as if the air weren’t mild and clear.

Sam climbed into the driver’s seat and shut the door. “All right, hey.” He reached across Gabriel to open the glove compartment and handed Gabriel a half-empty packet of tissues. Gabriel took one of them and, avoiding Sam’s gaze, scrubbed at his face.

He thought maybe having dry skin would help him feel calmer. But he’d lost control over himself, couldn’t stop jerking with hard, almost painful sobs.

“This is just because of the translation?” Sam asked.

Gabriel didn’t answer.

“The translation doesn’t matter,” Sam insisted. “No one cares.”

“Then why - ” Gabriel shuddered, trying to swallow down another spasm of crying. “Why did Dean call me to tell me?”

“I think he just wanted to make sure he was reading right. It was possible that he was the one making a mistake. Did he sound frustrated?”

“I don’t - I don’t remember. I don’t think so. I couldn’t tell. I just assumed he was.”

“Trust me, you’d know if he was upset with you. Hey - you need to breathe a little more. You’re gonna make it worse if you don’t try for a deep breath.”

Gabriel attempted to loosen his shoulders a little. It was easier to breathe that way.

Sam smiled at him. “Look, see, you’re all right; you’re okay. Now take a deep breath. Just one.”

Maybe it was the tenderness in Sam’s voice that made Gabriel collapse into another fit of tears. He was incapable of doing what Sam had asked of him. Incapable of ever doing what Sam asked of him. He couldn’t translate; he couldn’t breathe; he couldn’t calm down. He could never calm down.

Sam put a hand on Gabriel’s back. “It’s okay, Gabriel. You’re safe.”

Gabriel shook his head. “I’m not.”

“You are. You’re with me.”

Gabriel shook his head more fiercely this time.

“Gabriel, you’ve got to let me help. You know I can. You know I want to.”

“He was right!” The pitch of Gabriel’s voice - high, strangled, keening - surprised even him. “He was right to do what he did! I know that now; I - I was only good for my grace and when I couldn’t give it - I was nothing. I’m still nothing. I can’t give you anything. I tried and I can’t. I’m nothing.”

“You’re not nothing.”

“I’m nothing!” He lowered his head, seizing fistfuls of his hair and sobbing into his knees. “Nothing!”

“No, Gabriel, no.” Sam was trying to soothe him by running a hand up and down his spine. It was confusing, even frustrating, that he knew how to touch Gabriel without scaring him. After everything Sam himself had experienced, he shouldn’t have this kind of gentleness in him. He should react to others with the ferocity he’d been taught under Lucifer. Sam should be trying to protect himself, not Gabriel.

“I know that I am,” Gabriel rasped. “Stop trying to tell me I’m NOT!”

“But you don’t want to be, so why are you trying to convince yourself that you are?”

“I don’t want to LIE!”

“Me neither. I’m good at it, but I don’t have to like it. I’ll take any opportunity to be honest. This seems like a good one, don’t you think?” He was still sweeping his hand over Gabriel’s back. “Hey, Gabe, I need you to sit up, okay? You’re not gonna make any progress down there by yourself.”

When Gabriel didn’t respond, Sam eased him upright and offered him another tissue.

Gabriel didn’t take it. He didn’t deserve to look clean when he knew he was filthy.

“All right.” Gabriel flinched when Sam dabbed at his face with the tissue, trying to soak up the worst of it. “Hold still, okay? Just try to relax.”

“I can’t.”

“I’ve seen you do it before.”

“Sam - ”

“You don’t want to make yourself sick again.”

“I don’t care what happens to me.”

“I care.”

“You shouldn’t.”

“Whatever, I still do.” Sam withdrew the tissue and studied him. “Should we go home?”

“Dean’s not going to want to see me.”

“Yes he is. If there’s any problem I’ll put him in his place.”

“I don’t - I don’t want him to look at me, Sam.”

“All right, well, then we can avoid him and I’ll just hang out with you until you feel better.”

Sam started the car and pulled out of the parking lot. Gabriel leaned against the window, exhausted and ashamed.

True to his word, Sam brought them both into his bedroom so that Gabriel didn’t have to face anyone else.

As much as Gabriel hated to admit it, this was his favorite place to be. He’d spent more time than he deserved in Sam’s room, often in the middle of the night when a dream sent him into hysterics.

“Lie down,” Sam instructed. “You don’t have to sleep. Just rest for a minute.”

Reluctantly, Gabriel lowered himself to the bed and curled up on his side. He was comfortable, and that disturbed him, because he wasn’t supposed to be comfortable. As much as Gabriel had loathed the cell - the chilly stone floor, the greasy walls, the funereal glow of the candles - at least he knew it was where he was supposed to be. He hated it, but he had no right to wish he were somewhere else.

And now that he was out, he had no right to be afraid. The revulsion that was coming - whether now or somewhere down the line - was exactly what he deserved.

He wondered why that didn’t make it any easier, why that didn’t make the fear go away.

Sam sat on the other side of the bed. “You all right?”

“Not really.”

Sam sighed. “I know.”

“Then why the hell did you ask?”

“I’m not sure. Can I get you anything? Water, maybe?”

“No.”

“Really? Because you DO deserve some water, you know.”

Gabriel rolled over to look up at him, surprised that Sam had interpreted his refusal correctly. “No. I don’t. I don’t want it.”

“I’m getting it anyway.” Sam stood and left the room for a minute. When he came back, he set the water on the nightstand. “Not pushing. But it’s there if you change your mind.”

Gabriel raised himself to a sitting position. “Sam?”

“What’s up?”

“You knew that I thought I shouldn’t have water.”

“Yeah, I could tell.”

“How?”

“Because when you feel worthless, it’s easy to think everything is a privilege.”

Gabriel sat in silence, contemplating what Sam had said. “I didn’t realize you were so good at reading minds. They teach you this stuff in college?”

Sam resettled himself on the mattress. “I’m not exactly a rookie, you know.” He picked up the water and handed it to Gabriel, who accepted it this time.

“Are you feeling a little less … frantic?” Sam asked as Gabriel took a few tentative sips.

“Little bit. Be nice if I could hold onto my dignity for more than fifteen minutes at a time, but you know. Comme ci comme ça.”

“Don’t get so worked up. You can’t help it.”

“Um. Yes. I’d have to agree with you. And therein lies the worst of the problem.”

“There’s no problem here, Gabe.”

“Yes there is. You just handed it a glass of water.”

“Gabriel,” said Sam, “Do you think that if you keep telling me how much I’m supposed to hate you, I’ll finally decide that none of this is worth the effort?”

“Not exactly,” Gabriel replied. “More like if I pester you enough, you’ll come to your senses. Then, for your sake, you’ll kick me out. Out of the bunker and out of your life. It’d be doing me a favor, Sam. I can’t bring myself to hit the road on my own.”

“Good. I was afraid you might.”

“Hence why you wouldn’t take no for an answer when I said I didn’t want you following me to the diner.” Gabriel rolled his eyes. “You know something? You’re almost as much of a pain in the ass as I am.”

Sam smiled. “But you don’t want to get rid of ME, do you?”

Gabriel stared at him in disbelief. “That’s completely different. You’re just annoying. I’m … for Dad’s sake, you wiped up my snot back at the diner! The worst you ever do is dedicate yourself to pointless martyrdom. But me? Come on, Sam. We’re hardly on a level playing field here. You should - ”

“All right, all right, there’s nothing to get upset about. Drink some more water, okay?”

Gabriel complied. It did feel good on his lips and throat. Even if he couldn’t enjoy food the way he used to, water was still okay.

“Helps, right?” Sam asked.

Gabriel nodded, drinking more.

“Gabriel,” said Sam, “Does part of not eating have to do with … with not deserving it?”

Gabriel lowered the glass. “I guess so. A couple of times I’ve been hungry, and - and it seems wrong to eat.”

“Okay. Got it.” Sam hesitated, as if not entirely sure whether he wanted to go on. “You know I was tortured in Hell, right? And Dean was too, before he started torturing others.”

“Yes.” Gabriel looked away. “You two have your own shit to handle.”

“That’s not what I’m trying to tell you. What I mean is that I used to wonder if maybe Lucifer was doing the right thing. That I was just … not meant to be okay. Because I wasn’t worthy of being okay. I was scum. That’s what I thought.”

Gabriel’s eyes widened. “What the everliving - Sam. That’s so stupid. That’s, like - that’s contagious stupid. Don’t come any closer; I don’t wanna catch your stupid.”

“And I still have those days,” Sam added.

Gabriel just stared. “But that’s - ”

“It’s what? Ridiculous? Not true? Look - I know. I know that now.” He glanced away for a second. “Mostly. Anyway, what would you do if I was in your place?”

Gabriel shrugged. “Quite possibly the same fairy godmother routine. But you’re not me, and I could never be you.”

“No.” Sam touched his shoulder. “You’re not supposed to be. Besides, can you imagine having two of me?”

“Better than having two of your brother.”

Sam considered. “You’re probably right.” He got to his feet. “Speaking of Dean, I’m gonna go see how he’s doing. See if he needs any help with the … with anything.”

“Ask Cas for help with the translations,” Gabriel said bitterly.

“We’ll ask if we need it. You just chill in here for a few minutes and wait for me.”

“I don’t need constant supervision, you know.”

“Why, you don’t want me to come back?”

“No, I do. But you shouldn’t be - ”

“Okay, good, me too.” Sam left before Gabriel could say anything else.

“Stubborn dick,” Gabriel murmured, because the alternative was getting lost in self-disgust again.

Being alone was tough. The silence was more than Gabriel could handle.

It drove him nuts that he sort of DID need supervision.

He curled up on the bed, leaning back against the pillows. His spine tingled, waiting for ugly touch.

But the silence would be over soon.

No matter how little Gabriel deserved it, it was good to know Sam was coming back.